Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Monday Night Masters

Warning to dog people, no dog stuff here, just swimming stuff.

I went back to masters swim practice some time ago, maybe a month? I was trying to go 3x a week but due to work and vet and doctor's appointments I've been back down to 2x for the past few weeks. I still can't push off the wall properly but I can push off a bit with the heel of my bad foot. This tweaks my back though so I can't do it with much power. I think I'm losing maybe a second or two every 25 yards, not too bad and I can keep up in the slowest lane. It's way more fun than swimming on my own.

I've been trying to stay dedicated to breathing to alternating sides which is probably effecting my times since I'm way more inefficient when I breathe to the left. I'm working on improving my stroke and the coach has given me some good pointers but it takes a while to break that old bad muscle memory and build up new muscle memory. I'm finally getting enough strength back in my arms that I can suppport decent form in my stroke. I still need more strength to get better but at least I can feel the faint hint of muscles in my arms & back. The other problem with alternate breathing is that you get less air and it's hard to keep up your pace. I was playing around with breathing twice to the right then once to the left then I saw this post about breathing two strokes left then 2 strokes right here. The big difference between me and this guy is that he is equally efficient breathing to his right and left as evidenced by his times so for me I would probably see increased times or at least not the great decrease in times that he got so it didn't initially occur to me to try this. However thinking about it my stroke will be much more balanced this way which is my ultimate goal plus I'll get twice the practice on the bad side. It's been a struggle for me and occasionally I'll cheat and breathe all to the right if I'm getting tired and trying to keep up in my lane at masters but I've been keeping up with it for about 80% or so of my workout and it's finally starting to feel better. I'm not confident enough to try yet in the open water but maybe by midsummer. Open water swimming started at the Rez this morning but it was freezing and sleeting outside and water temp. over the weekend was 58 degrees and uh no way, not even with my toasty wetsuit. I want to wait until the water temp. is at least in the lower 60's.

Anyway, I want to start posting my masters workouts more regularly, mostly so I can track my progress. I thought about keeping them private because this will bore the dog people to tears but maybe someone will find their way here looking for swim workouts and as long as I'm typing them up I may as well share them and the dog people can just ignore them.

Monday, May 12, 2008
North Boulder Rec. Center
Jane coach
All distances are in yards
All times are mins:secs
free means freestyle (front crawl)
non-free means backstroke, breaststroke or butterfly (I did all backstroke)

Warm Up:
(4)-150 free on 3:00 (I was late and missed the first 2)

Set #1:
4 x 25 non-free on 0:40
6 x 50 free on 1:00 (I was on 50-52 secs swim time/8-10 secs rest)
4 x 25 non-free on 0:45
6 x 50 free on alternating 0:55/1:00 (my swim time was around 51-52)
4 x 25 non-free on 0:45
6 x 50 free on 0:55 (swim time around 52-53, this time I left 5 secs after the
leader so I could draft a bit, all others I left 10 secs
behind and was not drafting)

Set #2
3 x 250 free on 5:00 (pull with buoy/paddles for first two, no equipment for the

I swam the first two on 4:15 or so then around 4:38 for the last.

Final Set:
100 kick

Cool down:
100 non-free

Total yardage: 2350 for me, 2650 if you don't miss out the two 150's at the start

I was swimming in the last lane up against the wall which seems to slow down my times due to the drag from the wall. I was swimming 50's on similar intervals on Thursday at S. Boulder (no wall) consistently on 0:50. I'd like to get this down to 0:45 in the next month or so.


  1. Roxanne2:17 PM

    OK, so dog girl, asking a question ... why does breathing to both sides result in less air?

    I did not learn to swim until I was a grown-up, and I was so pleased with myself for learning to breathe to both sides from the get-go. But, I usually only come up for air every third arm stroke. Otherwise, I feel like I'm hyperventilating.

  2. If you're always breathing to the same side, you get air at every second arm stroke. If you're alternate or bilateral breathing you're breathing at every third stroke so you get less air. If you breathe for 2 strokes to each side before alternating you can get more air yet still get the benefits of switching sides.

    Breathing every third stroke is fine if you're just cruising along but if you try going faster then you'll see how you run out of breath much quicker. You can follow the link to the other tri blog and you'll see the guy has the same issue and his time trial numbers back this up. He is 2 seconds faster per 100 yards breathing every other stroke than he is breathing every third stroke. If he breathes 2 strokes to one side then switches to the other side for 2 strokes he cuts off a whopping 9 seconds. It may not sound like that much but trust me that difference is huge, especially since he's already pretty fast.

    It's much better to breathe to alternate sides, much more efficient plus you can avoid overuse injuries that you're much more prone to if you breathe to only one side. If you watch the pros during a long distance triathlon they not only breath to alternate sides but they may even go 5-9 strokes without breathing. It takes a lot of conditioning to be able to do that though.

    Unfortunately when I learned to swim as a kid they taught me to breathe to only one side so I have 35 years or so of bad muscle memory to combat plus I have to learn to breathe to my bad side. I'm mostly concerned about overuse injuries plus it's good to be able to breathe to both sides in case on race day there are waves or sun glare on one side then you can breathe to the other. Your stroke feels more balanced as well if you can alternate breathing to either side. Now that I'm getting used to it when I revert to breathing on one side only it feels wrong. But sometimes I get too winded trying to keep up with an interval and I have to breathe every other stroke to get enough air. I'm hoping with more practice and conditioning it won't be an issue.

  3. Roxanne5:34 PM

    Well, I'm beyond s-l-o-w, so I guess it's never mattered. I only need to swim well enough to snorkel or dive.